Swirling around near the Premier League’s plughole, Newcastle United’s sole target heading into the stretch is to avoid getting sucked down it once more. However, if Rafael Benitez does replace Steve McClaren as the speculation suggests he will, the bar of expectation should be raised considerably.
Although McClaren is still in a job as of Thursday morning, the odds of 4/11 about Benitez succeeding the Englishman in the wake of a stinging home defeat to Bournemouth could be telling.
David Moyes is the other currently jobless manager supposedly in the frame at 13/5, but if Mike Ashley has a shred of football-related common sense then he’ll be appointing the Spaniard over the Scot.
Despite Benitez’s stern demeanour and preference for defensive stability over attacking flamboyance earning him negative press in some quarters, the CV he would bring is tailor made to resurrect a giant of English football.
Guiding Liverpool to a fifth European Cup showed his capacity in this field and while far smaller steps are necessary at Newcastle first, ultimately the Magpies are a club craving silverware, not just a respectable top-flight finish.
Besides, some defensive rigidity is probably the order of the day for a team that has conceded 53 Premier League goals already in 2015/16.
Geordies would give an arm and possibly a leg just to lift the FA Cup, something Rafa managed the following season after bringing Champions League glory to Liverpool.
Moyes showed at Everton that he was well capable of providing that kind of stability, although the Goodison Park trophy cabinet remained locked up for a decade.
Benitez has shown his restorative powers in the face of great adversity when guiding Chelsea to European success as interim boss recently.
But the man who was removed from his post at Real Madrid in farcical fashion this season has proved he can secure trophies wherever he’s managed, from Spain, through England and Italy.
If the Magpies act quickly and make sure Benitez is given the full league games to make sure they avoid the drop, then the former Liverpool boss could begin building a dynasty the fans could actually be proud of.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.